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Five Americans among 18 killed in Afghan suicide attack

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Taliban claim Afghan blast attack
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • White House spokesman says Taliban offer Afghanistan "only destruction"
  • Five American troops, one Canadian killed by car bomb
  • Blast also kills at least 12 civilians, wounds 48, officials say
  • Five U.S. military vehicles, civilian bus destroyed
RELATED TOPICS
  • Afghanistan
  • Terrorism

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- A suicide bomb in Afghanistan's capital killed at least a dozen civilians, five U.S. troops and a Canadian service member on Tuesday, officials said -- a bloody strike claimed by the Taliban and deplored by the coalition.

The blast, which occurred on a busy road near a NATO-led military convoy and a registration center for the Afghan Army, rocked an area close to government buildings fortified with security.

A U.S. defense official confirmed the five U.S. troop deaths, and Canadian forces confirmed the death of their soldier.

Local medical officials said at least 12 civilians were killed and 48 were injured. The British Foreign Office put the civilian death toll at 19.

A spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force confirmed that five U.S. military vehicles were destroyed along with 13 civilian vehicles. One of the civilian vehicles was a bus filled with people, he said.

Hours after the explosion, a nearby field was littered with charred body parts, some thrown hundreds of meters from the blast site.

Afghanistan Crossroads blog: See images of the scene

Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, confirmed the operation and said the attacker was able to "destroy five foreign vehicles and damage one more."

Calling the attack a "deplorable act of violence," the U.S. Embassy said the strike demonstrates the Taliban's "callous disregard for the well-being of the Afghan people."

White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton later said the attack was a reminder of the "great sacrifice that our troops and their families are making. ... While our troops are fighting for a better future for the Afghan people, the Taliban offers only destruction."

Security Brief: Attack raises policing questions

"The United States and Afghan government remain steadfast in our determination to build security, stability and opportunity for Afghanistan," he said.

British Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt also condemned the strike and said the British and international commitment "to support the Afghan government and people to work for a political solution through the peace jirga at the end of this month will not be shaken."

The jirga is an assembly of tribal elders. Afghan President Hamid Karzai wants the elders to support a reintegration plan for Taliban members who renounce violence and lay down their arms.

Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz, an ISAF spokesman, called Tuesday's attack "desperate brutality and aggression" and said it reflects "the pessimism of an enemy who seek to kill the innocent and to stop the progress necessary for a better Afghanistan."

CNN's Atia Abawi contributed to this report.

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